A well paced and imaginatively put together walk through American television history with one of its most influential writers producers, Norman Lear, the doc “Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You” is well worth a watch for cultural and entertainment history fans. While Lear is famous for being the godfather of topical television in the form of All In The Family and Maude, he remained a pioneer in many aspects of life both in politics and art.
Moving through America’s shifting cultural and political landscape through the 60s and 70s, the documentary touches upon so many fascinating parts of American history. Feminism, bigotry and inter-generational conflict were put under Lear’s satirical lens that aimed to open minds through laughter and empathy. Not always perfect, he learned a lot along the way and he candidly shares that.
He is credited as having created the most provocative television of his time with shows that drew up to 65 million viewers. The tensions around “Good Times” which spawned “The Jeffersons” is such insightful history on the struggles of diversity and representation on television. The look at Lear’s time as an activist fighting the “Moral Majority” in the 80s reminds us of the cyclical rise of the right, and his reflections on what it meant to be Jewish fighter in the war, to a husband of an outspoken women’s rights activist, or a dad at 80 all come through with revealing openness, honesty and wisdom from a man of this world 93 years. On Netflix right now and you can rent it on YouTube too.